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Badger Bits: Power struggle at UW drags on

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Last week we touched on the power struggle brewing up between the UW Athletic Department and the UW faculty. In reality, this kind of thing happens at every university at some point, but at Wisconsin this has been building up for a long time and now has reached a boiling point.

Tom Oates from the Wisconsin State Journal has a good column on the story, but one particular part of the story jumped out at me:

Some saw the whole thing as a power play by athletic director Barry Alvarez to gain even more authority. Alvarez has rarely heard the word "no" since he arrived in Madison as UW’s football coach in 1990 and even ignored state laws — with the approval of then-chancellor John Wiley — in 2005 when he named Bret Bielema his successor in football without following proper hiring procedures.

There are further indications Alvarez has been operating without adult supervision. Jones was chairman of the athletic board when Bielema was hired, yet he didn’t learn about the hiring until about two hours before the press conference to announce the news. Some faculty were also concerned in 2007 about the board’s lack of input regarding UW’s contract with the Big Ten Network and again in 2008 when Alvarez announced that embattled women’s basketball coach Lisa Stone would have her contract renewed without even discussing it with the board.

There's no question Bielema enters 2009 on the hot seat -- at least with the fans -- and many  other donors are confused by another contract extension that was handed out to Lisa Stone last month. This doesn't exactly put Alvarez in a good position if he didn't follow the proper procedures when he hired Bielema and extended Stone again.

Hmm, maybe that is why he is seeking more power?

If you are unfamiliar with the debate, here is Andy Baggot's take from a few days earlier. It has all the details.

More links:

  • says undrafted free agents P.J. Hill and Jonathan Casillas both have good shots at making the Saints roster.
  • Baggot has more on the WCHA's expansion plans. As we discussed here, Bemidji State is the leading candidate to join the conference, while Nebraska-Omaha is rumored to be the second team. If that falls through, Alaska-Fairbanks could join, creating a good rivalry with Alaska-Anchorage.
  • is reporting over 16,000 seats have already been sold for UW's hockey game at Camp Randall next February. That would be a sell-out at the Kohl Center. Here is a good FAQ on the event from
  • Finally, the UW men's tennis team was ousted by Louisville in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. It was all decided in the last set of the last match.